June gardening update – busy and buzzing with life

July already, where does the time go?

The weather during the late Spring was cooler than average due to the prevalence of the Easterly winds which seem to cut through the garden straight off the North Sea, consequently some seed germination was slow and patchy. However, things seem to be catching up now.

The strengthening heat from the sun meant that work in the polytunnel for the Wednesday morning Alzheimer’s group could continue in comfort, indeed some days required increased ventilation! They were very industrious and most of the times extra tasks had to be provided to keep them busy much to the benefit of all of the garden’s activities.

They made up several hanging baskets with the Summer bedding which looked very decorative and sold quickly, some were kept to brighten up the garden. The Summer crops began to multiply and needed potting on by the group, this included 8 varieties of tomatoes, several types of chill and peppers, aubergines, sweetcorn, cucumbers , courgettes and pumpkins. This year’s quirky crops are cucumelons and we’re trying to grow luffas and a watermelon for a bit of interest and fun. They sowed the various herbs which germinated quickly and are growing well. They also refreshed and replanted the various pots and containers which are growing along nicely and are looking very colourful, many thanks to them!

The first of the super-early potatoes in the poly tunnel were harvested, there were 9 varieties and all of them very popular with our regular customers at the harbour stall, so much so that some are disappointed when they sold out quickly.

I’ve estimated that there was total of 90-100 kg of tatties! With all the tatties sold out the harbour stall has been curtailed for the ‘hungry gap’ and will resume soon as new crops become available. After the beds were cleared our Monday morning and other regular volunteers added lots of our home-made compost which gave the tunnel an interesting aroma but which will greatly benefit the Summer crops.

Work outdoors has gathered pace with lots of jobs all seemingly needed done at the same time such as adding compost and fertilisers to the beds, weeding, sowing seeds, planting out of all the veg too numerous to list in a short report apart from the young pea plants which the primary school pupils started off in ‘pots’ made from re-used paper. The walk-in brassica anti-butterfly and pigeon cage is nearly complete despite throwing a few design conundrums in the construction for Bill and I, thanks Bill!

After last year’s abundance of cabbage white caterpillars leaving a real dent in our Brassicas, this year we are deploying a second line of defence by using natural enemies for pest control. We ordered a pack of nematodes, which take care of the caterpillars by parasitising them and eating them from the inside before they can do any real damage.

Last week I also spotted evidence of a healthy population of wild predators feeding on the pest aphids. Aphidius wasp, Aphidoletes aphid midge and a hoverfly larvae, all happily chomping away at an aphid colony on the underside of nettle leaves. These will be of great help in keeping aphids under control this growing season and an evidence that our organic growing methods are clearly paying off.

At the time of writing the annual flower border by the path is looking fantastic and is buzzing with bees and other pollinators, as is the sensory border. The small wildflower meadow by the willow tunnel is looking good and colourful. The Yellow Hay Rattle which was sown last November is doing its job by parasitising the rank grasses and giving the flowering plants a chance to establish.

Volunteers taking care of the Fruit Tree Walk have also had their hands full with regular weeding and maintenance sessions. It makes for rewarding work just now as the berries at the top of the Garvie Brae are ripening nicely to provide an occasional snack. Alpine strawberries are at their peak now, with black currants closly behind so please feel free to go for a forage when you get a chance. Get in touch if you would like joing the Fruit Tree Walk volunteer crew.

Our wee hungry gap is coming to an end now as more crops are ready for harvest. Look out for our produce stall at the harbour this Sunday at 1pm or simply pop by the Garden during our open sessions. We have stunning cos and rollo rosso lettuces, mixed salad leaves, rainbow chard, first broadbeans, cauliflowers, broccolli, garlic, as well as an abundance of cut flowers and herbs. There is also a range of flowering plants for sale, should you wish to replicate the success of our perennial border on your very own patch. The next batch of new potatoes will also be ready by the middle of the month.

Finally, a young family who have taken on one of the raised beds this year are really enjoying using the growing space and have grown lots of veg including some delicious Pak choi. Please get in touch if you are interested in a growing space yourself.

I hope I haven’t omitted anything important and a huge “thank you” to all the help to all the volunteers from the garden team.

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